Updated: Sep 17
Shayne McGuire tells his story over a cup of coffee
"It's all about your attitude. Be a good person and a cool hang and all the doors will open for you."
I met Shayne in college working concert promotions for a radio station in 2019.
He moved to Nashville that year and worked a few other jobs to make ends meet while seeing his dreams through. Above everything else, he was on call as a fill in drummer for cover bands downtown. He would quite literally drop everything at any given moment to play gigs whenever he was needed.
Shayne didn't believe that drumming could be a real life career until later in his 20's. As a kid growing up in the midwest, he admittedly fell for all of the stereotypes that are cast on creatives. He claimed drumming as a hobby until he visited Nashville in 2015 and realized music wasn't just a weekend thing here; it was a lifestyle. And it was the kind of life that he wanted to live.
He didn't get his first gig until 9 months into the hustle and now plays consistent shows for nearly 2,000 people at bars downtown Nashville, weddings and corporate events around the country.
But his story didn't start in Nashville.
Somewhere in the suburbs of Detroit in 2007, a high school junior purchased Rock Band, set up the drum kit, and never looked back.
let's start from the beginning
"The only thing that was ever consistent in my life was practicing the drums.”
He spent the earlier half of his 20's under the influence, in and out of bars and shuffling through majors in college. Confused and struggling financially, he tried graphic design, audio production, and photography but nothing stood out. He worked at Toys 'r' Us, Best Buy, delivered food to jails and cleaned with a boat harbor crew, but it was all painfully temporary.
Inspired by Rob Zombie, Dave Grohl, Tommy Lee and others; the one thing that remained a constant in Shayne's life was the drums.
His first performance was with a cover band at a small bar outside of Detroit who put on a regular "jam with the band" night. The first song that he ever played on stage was, "Hard to Handle," by The Black Crowes to an audience of 15 people.
the moment it all made sense
A few days before a Rob Zombie concert during a photography class in college, Shayne observed his fellow students talking about how excited they were to continue photography after class. All he could think about was going home to play the drums.
At the concert, a fan asked Rob how they could live a life like he did. Almost as if Rob was speaking to Shayne himself, he said:
"You want my life? Come and get it."
Shayne had seen a few of his concerts up to this point and nothing like this ever happened before.
This was his sign.
"Nashville is one of a kind and I'm just happy to be apart of it."
Shayne has played all over Broadway at Assembly Food Hall, Tootsies, Kid Rock's Honky Tonk, Luke Bryan's Sushi Bar, Bowie's, Paradise Park and more. His favorite bars to perform at are the Lucky Bastard Saloon and Johnny Cash's Bar & BBQ because he likes the stage and management at both bars.
One of the biggest highlights of drumming downtown is the band that Shayne drums for. He loves being a part of Coco and the Nash Bash. 'Coco' being the lead singer of the band and Shayne's girlfriend, Courtney.
I have seen them live a few times and am stunned by her voice every time. Each of the band members are quickly able to adapt to various genres of music and they take requests from just about any genre.
Shayne loves when people request rock and swing music and notices a lot of people requesting 90s alternative songs lately. He is not the biggest fan of country, though his "woo girl" song of choice is, "Man I Feel Like A Woman" by Shania Twain.
And rightfully so... how could one not woo to Shania Twain?
/woo - girl/ Noun.
Anyone listening to live music who screams, "Omg that's my song" followed by a long 'woooooo'. Someone in town for a bachelorette party 75% of the time.]
If you happen to see Coco and the Nash Bash playing during a night out on Broadway, stop in, request a song and buy the band a round of vodka or Irish whiskey shots. Shayne loves a good margarita too if you really have some money to burn.
how it works
Let's get the obvious misconception out of the way first. Pay. You're probably thinking...chasing your dreams is great and all but can you make a legitimate living drumming?
The answer is absolutely you can.
"If you're playing at good bar they will pay a base of $125 a night before tips. Tips will range anywhere from $400 - $600 per person per night."
That's almost 800 dollars for 3.5 hours of work. I'll leave the rest of the math for you to figure because numbers aren't my thing.
The pay will fluctuate in the slower months from January - early March depending on the weather. As a drummer in a cover band, Shayne is able to keep things consistent by playing weddings and corporate gigs.
"Everyone is somebody; don't be an asshole and you will meet the right people."
Tootsies is his least favorite bar to play because of treatment and pay, but that's a story for another time.
All of Coco And The Nash Bash's set lists are around133 songs long, not to mention a long list of requests that is texted to the band as tips are collected. Something you might not consider when you're drinking and dancing.
Shayne does lots of research and considers every gig a learning experience.
if Shayne wasn't doing this
If Shayne wasn't a full-time drummer in Music City U.S.A., he would be writing horror reviews, working as an on-air radio host for a rock station or designing haunted houses. Every time I see Shayne he is wearing something Beetle Juice, Friday the 13th or generally horror related. Very true to his brand.
He's a big gamer and is a dedicated dog dad to his pug, Brahms, pronounced like the composer. When he's not playing downtown, he enjoys trying different local food spots and spending time at the 3 Crow Bar in East Nashville.
Shayne never wants to retire. He always wants to be involved in a creative space.
You can catch Coco And The Nash Bash Thursday - Saturday from 6pm -10pm at the Lucky Bastard Saloon and at the Johnny Cash Bar off of Third Ave most Sunday afternoons.